Maverick Bleuse
PhD student
Master, UPJV in 2019

Main project: Bone Marrow Adiposity - Improving the Characterization Methods to Better Understand its Role in Osteoarthritis
Funding: UCL and ICL
Supervisor(s): Greet Kerckhofs

In order to better study the relationship between the different subtissues in the osteochondral unit, we will use contrast-enhanced microCT (CE-CT). Although efforts have been made to visualize BMAT in 3D using CE-CT, the current contrasting staining agents (CSAs) are mostly invasive and highly toxic, such as osmium tetroxide. The current CSAs, hence, do not allow simultaneous visualization of the different subtissues in the osteochondral unit. Within the research group of promoter G. Kerckhofs (UCLouvain), new non-invasive, non-toxic stains are being developed. It is, therefore, the first objective of this PhD study to optimize CE-CT imaging for simultaneous visualization of the different subtissues in the osteochondral unit, with a strong focus on BMAT imaging.
The second objective is to assess the progress of OA, and the related changes in different subtissues in the osteochondral unit, using our optimized 3D imaging techniques as well as Raman spectroscopy (expertise of promoter B. Cortet, Université de Lille, France). A mouse OA model with a destabilized medial meniscus (DMM) will be used for this study. We will assess whether BMAT could be an early biomarker of OA progression and a predictor of subchondral and cartilage changes. Identifying BMAT as a marker of the progression of OA and potentially the response to therapeutic agents would be a major advance in the assessment of the disease, which today relies on the progression of irreversible cartilage loss and multifactorial clinical symptoms.
As a third objective, we aim to evaluate the effect of corticosteroids on OA progression. Corticosteroid injections can relief pain in patients with OA. However, the effect of corticosteroids on cartilage degeneration, or other changes in the osteochondral unit, have never been assessed. For our study, intra-articular injections of corticosteroids will be made in healthy and OA joints (at different time-points of OA). Two different injection protocols will be applied to the mice: an intensive weekly series of intra-articular injections will be performed to generate the most possible effect (intensive frequency), and a second series of time-spread injections, supposed to be closer to a protocol performed in the human treatment of OA (here, the expertise of promoter B. Cortet will be important).

IMMC main research direction(s):
Processing and characterisation of materials

Research group(s): MEED
Collaborations: Cotutelle with University catholic of Lille